BHA holds hands up over missing fixture

Lack of Friday evening action our mistake says regulator

Punters looking to get stuck into an evening card tonight will be disappointed to see that no fixture has been scheduled in Britain – and the BHA has admitted culpability for missing the blank slot in the calendar.

There will be more all-weather evening meetings in 2018

Paul Johnson, the BHA’s Head of Racing, said the authority “should have scheduled” an all-weather twilight meeting on Friday, September 1 and “holds its hands up” to the oversight, which will result in the levy generation wheel grinding to a halt.

We missed the opportunity – it’s our responsibility and we hold our hands up. We’re not pleased about it

He said: “We should have scheduled a meeting tonight but clearly we missed the opportunity – it’s our responsibility and we hold our hands up. We’re not pleased about it.

“The evening meetings on turf run between mid-April and the end of August. The fixture list can be complex to manage and because of inevitable shuffling, there is actually twilight racing on turf at Hamilton tomorrow [Saturday, September 2 in addition to all-weather evening racing at Chelmsford].

“Hamilton’s fixture was originally scheduled for Sunday, September 24 but because this was subsequently agreed to be a Flat-free racing day, it was moved.

“Next year we will have a new process in place. From September there will be twilight/evening all-weather racing every Friday and Saturday with a few notable exceptions, including Good Friday and Christmas.”

There will be a record 1,508 fixtures in 2018, which includes 30 additional evening meetings taking the total number to 412, a result of betting data indicating the appetite punters have for evening racing.

Pat Cooney, Racing Press Relations Officer for bet365, called the lack of a race meeting tonight “surprising and disappointing”.

He said: “I was surprised when I saw there was no Chelmsford or Wolverhampton scheduled for this evening. It feels strange.

“In terms of turnover lost we’re talking well into six figures, that’s money that could now go on the England v Malta game or even racing overseas.

“There are only 20 afternoon races today and the last race is 5.10pm, not counting Down Royal’s twilight fixture.

“We certainly could have done with a meeting tonight. Punters will certainly be expecting to be able to have a bet coming off the back of the turf evenings. Now they’ll come in from work, switch on the racing channels and get highlights only.

“If it’s a mistake then so be it but it’s disappointing and certainly a missed opportunity.”

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